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Naturals, Amber, Orange and Pet-Nats ?

There was once a time that you couldn't move for ultra trendy social media posts with an orange wine hashtag flooding our timelines.

Natural wines have been associated with hipsters with both virtuous and indulgent narratives on offer for all to see.


It divided us and we're not entirely sure why. 


We'll try to unpick the reasons why so many people became turned off with those Orange Wines marketing strategies ? And in turn, Orange Wine.


Plus what even is Orange Wine?


And is it safe to now drink Orange wines without receiving 'the look' ?


We'll also share our recommendations of best buys and most importantly - Which ones are great 'first-timers' . The least funkiest and the best all-rounders to dip your toes into the world of Natural, Amber, Orange and Pet Nat Wines.


But first.........

 



 

What is Orange Wine?

Orange wines are generally considered to be “natural wines,” usually grown organically or Biodynamically, produced with minimal intervention. They are also referred to as skin-contact wine, naturals and ambers - whatever the terminology you use, these wines can be some of the most interesting and unique within the spectrum of wine.


Most orange winemakers use only native yeast and little or no additives such as sulphites. Orange wines also tend to be lower in alcohol and light in body.


To make an orange wine, you first take white grapes, mash them up, and then put them in a large vessel (often cement or ceramic). This is a natural process that uses little to no additives, sometimes not even yeast. Its low intervention allowing the grapes, terroir as well as the ambient yeast and bacteria to influence the wine.




Then, you typically leave the fermenting grapes alone for four days to sometimes over a year with the skins and seeds still attached.




Because of all this, they taste very different from regular white wines and have a sour taste and nuttiness from oxidation.

 

These winemakers also choose not to filter or fine. (Some natural wines will have sediment at the bottom of the bottle, these are by-products of the production method and don’t affect flavour or quality.) 

You may also hear the term “Ramato,” which means “auburn,” in Italian, and typically refers to Italian Pinot Grigio made in an orange wine style but that's us taking a left turn and we're here for Orange Wine ....Stay focused!



As there is no official charter or definition of what, how and when a wine can be deemed 'Orange' . We have listed a few things to consider when choosing one .


  • Are the grapes grown organically or biodynamically? 

  •  No irrigation.

  •  Hand-picked grapes

  •  No added sugars, yeasts or bacteria.

  •  No adjustments for acidity.

  •  No external flavour additives other than those imparted by barrels (no staves, chips, or liquid extract).

  •   Minimal or no fining before bottling

  •   Light filtration, or none.

  •   Total sulphites 70mg/L.


HL Tip - What's the typical sulphite contents in wines?


There are regulations in place across the globe limiting the amount of sulphites allowed in wine production.

 If you do suffer from headaches after drinking wine and feel that it may be linked to the sulphite contents, you'll find these stats beneficial. We always advised to stick to wines produced in the EU , as they are closely monitored and contain the lowest level of sulphites .

Here goes.

South Africa is closest to Europe with a limit of 160 mg/l . Argentina is 180 mg/l , across the border in Chile it has a limit of 300 mg/l .

 However the clear winner is the US with a whopping 350 mg/l allowance!!


Something to think about when you're next purchasing wine.




Orange Wines are bold.



Think wood varnish, bruised apple, sourdough, hazelnut, linseed oil and dried orange rind.

 

On the palate, they're big, big and dry with heavy dry tannins that a decent red would be proud of. Combine that with the sourness of a Lambic beer and we have Orange Wine.


Because of their boldness, Orange wines pair well with equally bold foods, including curry dishes, Moroccan cuisine, Ethiopian cuisine, Korean dishes with fermented kimchi (Bibimbap), and traditional Japanese cuisine. Due to the high tannin and bitterness, orange wines pair with a wide variety of meats, ranging from beef to fish.


But why?


Orange Wine or Georgian Orange wine dates back to 5000 yrs in Caucasus (Modern day Georgia). They fermented their wines in large vessels called Qvevri that were closed with stones and sealed with beeswax.


In the last 20 or so years, winemakers have been exploring this wine making technique, keen to explore the natural route.


 


Orange wines are still rare, but many producers have a growing interest in this natural winemaking style. 


What is clear is that this movement is not a trend that is going away anytime soon . This isn't its Sideways  Pinot Noir moment - Its here to stay.

 

And the reason we feel its different this time, is you .

 

You're having fun with it and as if by magic you've taken the pomp and pressure away from purchasing wine for the first time. You're embracing the diversity of natural wines, enjoying exploring the different styles and flavours but more importantly, you're not afraid to pop the cork and dive in.







Lets not forget about Pet- Nats?


Pét-nats are sparkling wines made in a manner that predates the so-called “traditional method” used in Champagne (and for most other sparkling wines).

Rather than induce a second fermentation in the bottle to create the bubbles, as Champagne producers do, makers of pét-nat simply bottle the wine before the initial fermentation has ended.

The result is softly fizzy, sometimes lightly sweet from residual grape sugars, usually hazy with unfiltered yeast particles, and typically sealed with a crown cap instead of a cork.


The best way to discovered it is… by taste!


Funky Pet Nat - Organic 

Thermenregion / Niederöster

Zierfandler , Austria

 12% abv Vegan Friendly  A very aromatic pet nat with fruit-forward and hints of rose blossom. Exotic and light, elegant and a perfect balance of acidity and body. Nice easy elegant bubbles. 

Food Pairings

A seducer for every occasion! Think of canapes mixed flavours and textures. Charcuterie boards, cream cheeses, nuts, apples and strawberries.







Simple Pet Nat - Organic

Las Violetas, Uruguay

100% Muscat

12% abv Vegan Friendly


Floral lift on the nose with complex spice and notes of rosemary and white peach; fresh on the palate, the acidity driving things along with further herbal, citrus and greengage fruit flavours.

 Food Matching

Ceviche, all kind of seafood, salad with citrus or fruits





Here's is our Top 5 Natural Wine Recommendations










Domaine des Tourelles Skin, 2020

Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

 100% Merweh

 Vegan Friendly

 11% abv

This is the first production of Orange wine from Domaine des Tourelles.

Winemaker Faouzi Issa has been mentored by a couple of Georgian winemakers who have been teaching him their methods of producing Amber wines. The native Merweh grapes come from 150 year old vines which grow wild in the mountains of Lebanon.

Fermentation takes place in Terracotta jars where the wine spends 4 months on skins. 



 




 








Daschbosch Skin Contact, 2022

Breedekloof, South Africa

90% Chenin Blanc 10% Muscat of Alexandria

Vegan Friendly

12.5% abv

This Negroni-esque skin contact blend from Daschbosch shows intense savoury nose with notes of dried citrus peel, marmalade, brown spice and almond skin. Full flavoured and textural on the palate with flavours of apricot kernel and fruit peel followed by a fine bitter orange finish.

A great wines to highlight the ‘umami’ factor in most modern Asian dishes.



 










Pequeñas Fermentaciones Naranjo   2022

 Valle de Cafayate, Argentina

 60% Torrontes   40% Moscatal

 Vegan Friendly

 12.5% abv

A blend of Old Vine Torrentes and Rosé Moscatel, its complex and pleasantly fresh, with floral notes of orange blossom and jasmine complimented by citrus and grapefruit aromas.

The perfect partner for grilled halloumi dishes.



 

 



Nakcool

Blend: 80% Muscat Ottonel, 5% Viognier, 15% Ugni Blanc

Las Violetas, Uruguay

9.5% ABV

Vegan Friendly

Generous floral aromas on the nose with complex phenolics. The voluptuous palate offers tropical fruit flavours balanced by refreshingly bright acidity and a little phenolic grip on the finish. Delicious well-chilled.

Spontaneous fermentation, unfiltered and unrefined.

Racked twice in the last quarter moon. The Muscat is macerated for 15 days, and the other components are pressed directly.

Food Match

Fresh white cheeses, fish, seafood, salads.




 

 

Strange Kompanjie

100% Cinsault

 Paarl

 13% abv

 Vegan Friendly

 28 year old, dry grown bush vine Cinsault from organically farmed blocks, brought to Wildeberg where roughly 30% of the fruit is carbonically macerated due to some whole bunch material in the press.

The juice is then allowed to ferment naturally in older French oak.A natural wine with no fining or filtration and very low sulphur levels.


The nose is alluringly bright with aromas of fresh strawberry, juicy cherry and crunchy red fruit. The palate reflects these with vibrant, tangy berry fruit, fresh acidity and gently mineral notes which marry together with delicate finesse.

 Food match

Great lightly chilled with Mediterranean dishes, chargrilled veg, pan fried shrimp or Asian inspired dishes.



So next time you're in Harvey Leonard's and you're trying to chose between

Orange, Pet-Nat, Amber or Naturals. Remember we're always on hand and eager to chat about all things "cloudy" within the exciting world of bottle fermented wines!


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